Did you know that Denver Days are coming up? From July 30 to August 7 Denverites are encouraged to get to know their neighbors better. I love this program because it combines two of my favorite things to talk and write about: Denver life and neighborhood living!
Denver Days was launched in 2012 to encourage positive neighbor interaction across the city. The program encourages block parties, small park gatherings, and other small-scale social events where the focus is on being, well, neighborly.
To qualify for Denver Days benefits (which include waived park permit fees, free street barricades, and free advertising of your event on Denver Days website and Denver Days Facebook page), you must register your Denver Days event by the deadline (July 15 for block parties and park gatherings).
For more information, you can download a Denver Days Toolkit here! Here are a few ideas for observing Denver Days in your neighborhood...
1. Plan a block party. Register your block party by July 15 to get the permit fee waived and get free barricades.
2. Invite your neighbors to a porch party. I have an obsession with porches. I just don't think people hang out on their porches nearly enough. And is there a better place to socialize with neighbors on a summer day? If you have a great porch, a porch party is a fun, easy way to host.
3. Hold a meet-up in your neighborhood park. Social events in parks must be registered by July 15, and park reservations must be made no later than Friday before the event (by noon via email or 4pm in person).
4. Create a neighborhood block directory. Don't know your neighbors yet? This is the perfect way to get started. No need to be too formal. Just drop off a sign-up sheet in your neighbors' mailbox and, once they return it to you, you can email the final version to everyone.
5. Plan a neighborhood clean-up. Is there an area of your neighborhood that could use a little TLC? Recruit your fellow neighbors to tackle the project with you. Working together always strengthens bonds, as does the traditional celebratory beer after the project is complete.
6. Coordinate a neighborhood fundraiser. Consider an improvement project that will benefit the entire neighborhood.
7. Patronize your neighborhood businesses. Check to see which local shops and businesses are holding Denver Days events (and discounts!).
8. Hold a neighborhood yard sale. Yard sales can be a lot of work, but it's also more fun (and usually more successful) if you coordinate efforts with your neighbors.
9. Organize a family bike parade. We just participated in the annual Highland Children's Bike Parade, and it was so much fun to see the kids decorate their bikes and then proudly ride them down the street.
11. Host a front yard concert. Music has always been something that brings people together. Still this one's a little tricky and depends on the neighborhood. Many would welcome a guitarist strumming on his front steps but perhaps not a full band. You have to know your neighborhood and, of course, be aware and respectful of noise levels. Check out Boulder's Mapleton PorchFest for inspiration.
12. Host a front yard (or back yard) movie night. Treat the neighborhood to your favorite G- or PG-rated movie. You can rent an outdoor screen from this local business, or this one for a slightly bigger event, like a movie night in your neighborhood park.
13. Plan a candlelight dinner party in the middle of your street. How often do you have the chance to dine in your street? And, the city will even provide the barricades.
14. Teach an outdoor yoga class, dance lesson, or other fun class that gets people moving their bodies.
15. Consider a cultural showcase event. A fun example from past years is the Japanese Kite Festival.
16. Host an ice cream social with a sundae toppings bar. Or a Bloody Mary bar. Or any sort of bar really.
17. Host a picnic featuring culturally inspired fare. Or consider cultural fusion for a multicultural event, like Somali Tamale.
18. Create a 1-day "yard summer camp" for kids. Check out Playborhood: Turn Your Neighborhood into a Place for Play for inspiration.
19. Encourage the neighborhood kids to host their own outdoor production -- concert, play, or whatever else they can dream up. You can use a front yard or, if you apply to get the barricades, a performance in the street.
The possibilities for celebrating Denver Days are truly endless. What might entice your neighbors to gather? It can be simple and informal or planned and elaborate -- there's no right or wrong way. Whatever you do, be sure to share your event on social media (use #DenverDays2016) to inspire the rest of us!
Heather Garbo is a Denver-based mama of two with a love for all things local. Her blog, www.denverdweller.com, provides inspiration for better local living with resources to live and shop local in Denver, as well as ideas for stronger neighborhood ties, such as 31 Ways to Build Community in Your Neighborhood.